The B2B marketplace is set to experience some huge changes over the next decade. Fast on the heels of the B2C digital revolution, B2B eCommerce sales are set to significantly eclipse B2C sales by 2020.
As B2B eCommerce adoption speeds up, there are big opportunities for suppliers to take advantage of new B2B online marketing channels. In this post, we’re going to look at four key areas where the digital marketing sphere is impacting B2B sales, as well as offering some practical tips to incorporate effective strategies into your own marketing processes.Ads by Hooly
How B2B Online Marketing is Shaping B2B eCommerce
1. Marketing strategy is data-driven and flexible
B2B eCommerce platforms provide suppliers with a direct link to their customers, shedding light on buyer habits and preferences. The prevalence of access to data is enabling those responsible for designing and managing the buyer journey, of both new and established customers, to create highly-tailored and customer-centric experiences.
On the marketing front specifically, the strength of data-drivensystems is also allowing companies to build a flexible, nuanced picture of buyer needs. This understanding is feeding into how suppliers are maintaining loyalty in the longer-term and pitching new products to their customer-base.
Whilst B2B eCommerce has taken its cue from B2C platforms in designing features and functionality, the feedback mechanisms integrated into the buyer journey are proving vital in enabling suppliers to distinguish between B2C and B2B needs and pinpoint those areas that require development. Tax regulations, higher order quantities, the need for agile logistics networks and requirements for in-depth information on the part of the buyer are all examples of key differences between the two.
2. Email is the most-used marketing channel
According to one study, 90% of B2B eCommerce suppliers use email as their main marketing channel. Considering the versatility, cost-effectiveness and high engagement levels of email as a medium, this is hardly surprising.
Email has always been a mainstay as a top communication channel for suppliers, and the modern online marketing sphere is changing how email campaigns are approached as the centerpiece of a modern B2B eCommerce marketing strategy. The cause of this trend is twofold. First, when coupled with an online platform, the power of email to drive sales increases – it can be used to direct customers to landing pages, provide real-time product information, and publicize a variety of promotional materials. Secondly, the functionalities of audience analysis, segmentation and targeting offered by even the most basic of email management software has meant that even SMBs now have access to a highly effective suite of tools.
Email marketing achieves it true potential when it’s combined with the kind of integrated data strategies described in the first point of this post. Information about a customer’s buying habits and their purchase history, for instance, can be used to segment an email audience in order to send them specific promotions and offers.
3. Feature-rich cross-device compatibility is driving sales
Having a single, readily-accessible point of focus in the form of a B2B eCommerce website has opened up a myriad of opportunities for B2B marketers. Consider that, in the past, running a promotion would have required that advertising materials be designed, packaged and sent to every customer, tracked using an in-house system and then followed up on, often manually. Nowadays, it’s simply a case of setting up a web page and sending an email.
Suppliers can also take advantage of a range of inexpensive features. Catalogs, for instance, can be updated almost instantly with vivid photographs, in-depth descriptions and real-time product information. Promotions and discounts can be organized and advertised in a matter of days. Strong, consistent branding can be implemented across your site pages and interface easily, and there are also opportunities for loyalty marketing. By providing your customers with a steady stream of content––videos, training materials, industry advice––it’s possible to build trust in the long-term.
Feature and information-rich portals, however, are only half of the picture. Over 50% of B2B purchases are made using mobile devices. Suppliers are monopolizing on this trend by making use of specific marketing features like SMS, push notifications and interfaces designed specifically for ease-of-use on handheld devices.
4. Social media marketing uptake is increasing
90% of businesses now have a social media presence, and it’s becoming increasingly common for B2B companies to make use of channels like Twitter and LinkedIn to raise awareness about products, gather data, and build brand recognition. Importantly, social media also acts as a strong source of data about customer behavior and preferences.
Certain large platforms like LinkedIn are characterized by their B2B audience. As the conversation between those in the B2B sphere grows more prominent on platforms like this, presence on them is becoming increasingly important.
What are your thought about modern digital marketing trends in relation to B2B eCommerce? Let us know in the comments section below.
Author: Alden Morse
Alden Morse is an Account Executive at Handshake. When he’s not busy helping wholesale distribution companies trade in cumbersome manual paper processes for digital solutions, you can find him cheering on his favorite Boston sports teams.